debuts of the month twitter
Search our site
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber Read the opening extract of the brand new Kathleen Barber book before its publication on 27/12/2017

Birth, Death, and Motherhood in Classical Greece by Nancy Demand

Birth, Death, and Motherhood in Classical Greece

Part of the Ancient Society and History Series


Birth, Death, and Motherhood in Classical Greece by Nancy Demand

Why did Greek society foster social conditions, especially early marriage with its attendant early childbearing, that were known to be dangerous for both mother and child? What were the actual causes of death among women described as dying of childbirth in the Hippocratic Epidemics? Why did families choose to portray labor scenes on tombstones when the Greek commemorative tradition otherwise avoided reference to suffering and illness? In Birth, Death, and Motherhood in Classical Greece, Nancy Demand offers the first comprehensive exploration of the social and cultural construction of childbirth in ancient Greece. Reading the ancient evidence in light of feminist theory, the Foucauldian notion of discursively constituted objects, medical anthropology, and anthropological studies of the modern Greek village, Demand discusses topics that include midwifery, abortion, attitudes of doctors toward women patients, and the treatment of women generally. For evidence, she relies primarily on the case histories in the Epidemics concerning women with complications in pregnancy, abortion, and childbirth. She also draws relevant details from cure records and dedications from healing sanctuaries, labor scenes depicted on tombstones, Aristophanic comedy, andPlatonic philosophy.


Demand's book brings welcome light to the problems that pregnant women are likely to have faced in Greek antiquity, and to the ways in which a male-dominated society sought to understand and manage women's necessary role in procreation. * Classical Review * There is much here to provoke thought and not least because the author believes that male control of female reproductivity was woven inextricably into the institutions of the polis. * Greece and Rome * A wide-ranging and general account, using written and visual evidence to focus, above all, on women as child-bearers, brought up and socialized through rituals to bear children for the family and the state, in patterns of early and frequent childbirth which were, contradictorily, damaging to their and their children's health or survival. -- Nick Fisher * Times Literary Supplement *

About the Author

Nancy Demand is professor emeritus of history at Indiana University.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

18th October 2004


Nancy Demand

More books by Nancy Demand
Author 'Like for Like'


Johns Hopkins University Press


304 pages


Social & cultural history
European history
Ancient history: to c 500 CE
Sociology: birth



With literary excellence, humour and drama, Lovereading's got value and is a real stress-calmer!

Siobhan McDowell

Lovereading is not only an amazing site, but it's one of my very favourites. It's like visiting a fascinating bookstore, but better.

Rebecca Jayne Barrett

For me, to read is to learn, to reflect, to escape, to think, to contemplate and my time for space and calm.

Sally Ellsmore

It is a website dedicated to those who adore reading It really is a one stop shop for book lovers. Love it!

Edel Waugh

Discover new authors and enjoy old favourites; oodles of literary gems to uncover at Lovereading with candid reviews from real reviewers.

Emily Wright

I love Lovereading for the wonderful like for like author recommendations and for highlighting new books, it's a great resource for readers!


They are bright, breezy and eager to offer a great book, then genuinely listen/respect the review one writes.

Maggie Crane

Because of Lovereading I have broadened my reading horizons with some really great books that I probably would never have chosen myself.

Susan Walsh